Sotah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Six



This mishnah deals with situations in which the sotah’s meal offering cannot be offered.  Mishnah three above already stated that there are some situations in which the meal offering is burned whole and none of it is eaten by the priests.  Our mishnah lists three reasons why the meal offering may be burned:  1)  it was defiled through contact with something which defiles, i.e. a dead body; 2)  the woman does not end up drinking the water; 3)  she was the wife of a priest.


Mishnah Six

1)      If her meal-offering became defiled before it was sanctified in the ministering vessel, behold it is like all meal-offerings [similarly defiled] and can be redeemed. 

a)      But if [it became defiled] after it had been sanctified in the ministering vessel, behold it is like all meal-offerings [similarly defiled] and it is burned.

2)      These are the ones whose meal-offerings are burned:

a)      She who says, “I am defiled to you”;

b)      And when witnesses came [and testified] that she had been defiled;

c)      She who says “I refuse to drink”,

d)      She whose husband refuses to let her drink;

e)      And she whose husband had relations with her on the journey [to Jerusalem].

3)      And the meal-offerings of all women married to priests are burned. 



Section one:  This section explains what happens if the meal offering is defiled.  These rules for the sotah’s meal offering are no different than those other meal offerings.  Before the offering has been put into the ministering vessel, if it was defiled it can be redeemed.  This is performed by taking money and “purchasing” the offering and then using that same money to buy another offering.  However, once it has entered the ministering vessel it has been sanctified.  If after this point it is defiled, it cannot be redeemed but rather must be burned.

Section two:  These are all cases in which the woman cannot drink the water or doesn’t drink the water because she refuses.  All of these cases have been mentioned in various mishnayoth above.  In these cases if the meal offering had already been put into a ministering vessel, it can no longer be redeemed and must be burned.

Section three: The meal offerings of priests are never eaten; rather they are always wholly burned on the altar.  This is stated specifically in Leviticus 6:16. However, unlike a regular meal offering of a priest, the meal offering of the sotah married to the priest does have a handful taken out and turned into smoke on the altar, as described in mishnah two.  Once the handful is taken out, the rest is burned upon the ashes.  Since the priestly husband has part share in his wife’s offering, it cannot be eaten.